Brazil’s economy has fallen into a deepening recession, its president is facing impeachment, and a corruption scandal has forestalled any possibility of reform. So with the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro around the corner, officials are realizing they may have to adjust some of their plans. Bloomberg:
The Brazilian economic crisis has finally hit the 2016 Olympics. Following a new round of cost-cutting by the Rio 2016 organizers, athletes will be asked to pay for the air conditioning in their dorm rooms. Stadium backdrops will be stripped to their bare essentials. Fancy cars and gourmet food for VIPs are out.
“The goal here is to organize games without public funding and to organize games that make sense from an economic point of view,” Rio 2016 spokesman Mario Andrada said in an interview.
That economic focus has changed radically in the six years since Rio was awarded the Games – South America’s first. At the time, Brazil’s government pledged $700 million toward any budgetary overrun. Then the economy tanked. Unemployment has soared, and the local currency, the real, has lost one-third of its value against the dollar in the last year.
When Brazil was selected for the 2016 Olympics, its economy was booming and the country appeared on the cusp of becoming a serious world power. The festivities were meant to be Brazil’s coming out party, much as the ostentatious 2008 Beijing Olympics were for China. Unless things change quickly, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. In 2008, China showed the world a booming economy, high architecture, and technological sophistication. Brazil, by contrast, might not be able to afford air conditioning for its guests. Then again, maybe Brazilians don’t think A/C is necessary for its version of the Summer Olympics. After all, it’s going to be winter in the Southern Hemisphere then anyway.